Poetic Forms Monthly: ‘Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies’by Amy Boetcher

instructress

Amy Boetcher has used our Museum Object Labels prompt as a jumping point for this evocative poem. Once you’ve read the poem, you can find out more about the Admonitions Scroll here, or if you’re in London you can actually go and see it in the British Museum. It’s thought to have been painted between 600 and 800 AD.

Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies

 

The Lady that succumbs
to the ta$te for pepper
ends The Man
with her pleasure.

Her body smeared
ink on silk,
on hanging or hand
scroll revealing

Lotus feet endure lifetimes

then unfurl
and bound feral
daughters gnashing
for not being sons.

amy-boetcher

Amy Boetcher is a poetry lover living in Michigan, USA. She studied biology for her undergraduate and graduate degrees, and is currently a stay at home mother.

Mining for Ideas 2: The Cinema

Image from Kubo and the Two Strings
Kubo confronts an eye

If this gets you going and you want to have a go at turning your prose into poetry, you might want to have a go at this prose poem exercise, and remember anything you write in response to a prompt on the site can be submitted for consideration for our Poetic Forms Monthly poem! Just email it to submissionsinpoetry@gmail.com.

This week I went to see the film Kubo and the Two Strings. If you can, I recommend seeing it. It’s warm, funny, dark, philosophical and visually stunning. But this isn’t a whole post about Kubo.

This prompt encourages you to generate ideas using a cinematic scene and unlike the Poetic Forms prompts, you don’t have to think about form at all. Just write!

The Exercise

Take one scene of the last film that you saw. It has to be the last film that you saw – it might even be better if it’s a film you wouldn’t tell people you’d been watching because you’ll have to be more creative! It just needs to be a scene that sticks in your mind.

Using the pomodoro technique, free-write using the scene as a starting point. You could begin by describing the scene or talking about something it reminded you of – you could use a particular colour from it, a shape, a character. The scene is the springboard. Write for 25 minutes. Here’s a timerIf you get stuck, go back to describing the scene as it was in the film. The point of this exercise is to see how far away you can end up from a starting point, but knowing you always have the visual to come back to. It doesn’t matter if the writing jumps all over the place – this is about getting some ideas flowing!

My Writing

I ended up with around 500 words that I wrote off the back of a scene in Kubo and the Two Strings, where he’s sitting in the body of a whale talking about how bad it smelt. My thought when I watched the film was, if it didn’t smell so bad that place would be a pretty nice refuge from a storm. You can read what I wrote below.

Kubo and the Two Strings
Kubo and the Two Strings

There’s a little girl, and she lives inside the body of a blue whale. The dead body of a blue whale. But wait – it’s nicer than you think! Let me explain, and then we’ll meet her.

There was a great storm in 2062. When I say a great storm, you’re probably thinking of the smack of the rain on the window. Perhaps you’re looking out at the lightning, craning your neck to see, feeling the weight of the velvet curtains behind you like a cape. But this storm wasn’t like that at all. There were no windows, no curtains. Think about the television when the signal has gone, or a pile of newspapers left in the rain for weeks, trodden to mulch. It was more like that.

Planet Earth turned inside out and upside down. Strange chemical rains froze some living things dead (like the whale) and melted some dead things into life (like the mountains and the sand dunes, and the hillsides). Sea creatures whipped across the sky, elephants crash-landed in the middle of cities and people – well there were no people when the storm died down. That was the thought that Shivangi had been trying to push away since she woke up inside the whale a week ago. That there were no people left. And if she didn’t look for them, then she didn’t find the bodies. And then she didn’t have to think that maybe she might be, possibly, perhaps, the last living soul in the entire world.

I’m not done explaining, but it seems Shivangi is eager to climb her way into the story already. Which is fair, after all, it is her story.

Shivangi Patel was eager to climb into lots of things, but usually when nobody was looking. She wasn’t the type to call out to her brothers and sisters, so that they could see that she was the fastest, the highest, the strongest. She was the type that didn’t think about other people that much at all, outside of the people in her books.

She did get into trouble. But only because she didn’t think about whether what she was about to do (climb the highest tree in the field, the one that her brother had fallen out of when he attempted to climb it the day before) was a proper thing for a sensible girl like herself to do or not, until afterwards. When her mother would make it very clear. And then she would cry, because she really did just want her mother to like her and she worried that deep down inside she wasn’t a sensible girl at all. And then she resolved to pretend better, at least until the next time she saw a rock she’d like to jump off or a lake she’d like to swim in.

Shivangi had very long black hair, which she plaited into one long rope at the back of her head and coiled around so that it sat above her neck like a sleeping snake. Her eyes were brown and gold, like a treasure chest, and her black eyelashes fluttered when she felt embarrassed. She wasn’t very tall, and her arms and legs were long and skinny and lately had seemed to not-quite do what she told them, like her brain’s commands could only reach so far. She liked to wear clothes that were yellow.

WHAT DO DO NEXT?

Give it a go! If you like it, submit it to us for publication by sending it to submissionsinpoetry@gmail.com.

Share this page on Twitter and Facebook, follow us, like us, talk to us!

 

 

Poetic forms 7: the Kenning poem

Life drawings by Rosie Reynolds

You can submit any poem you’ve written in response to a prompt on the site for consideration. Please send your poem to submissionsinpoetry@gmail.com with a short bio.

For this prompt we branch off from the list poem to look at working with kennings. A kenning is a two-word descriptive phrase. Shape-shifter. Dog-sitter. Book-lover.

What is a kenning poem?

A kenning poem is made up of these phrases, as a kind of list poem, and uses them as metaphor for a person. It is a poetic form dating back to the Anglo-Saxons, but in modern times largely appears in classrooms as a way of getting children to think about poetry and description. It is sometimes called a riddle or a puzzle poem, because it describes something without naming it, so the reader is guessing throughout.

The Prompt

The temptation here is to write about someone you know, and many of the examples of kenning poems online are written by children, about their parents. But for this prompt, pick a historical figure – and a complex one. Try to pick a person about whom much has been said, though little decided. Describe them using at least ten kennings. It does not have to rhyme.

Choose a title other than the person’s name (though you can say who it is about in parentheses or as an afterword).

If you can’t think of a figure, here are some you might choose: Thomas Cromwell, Queen Victoria, Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Maya Angelou, Jackie Onassis, Errol Flynn.

My example is about the anatomist Vesalius, and it rhymes in places but not strictly. I also deviate on 2 phrases, which aren’t kennings. But rules were made for breaking!

Detail of a painting by Rosie Reynolds

To Cut to Pieces 

(after Vesalius)

Parallel dissector, tooth-counter

Atrium-ranker

Heart-holder, heart wholer

China-rooter, eyeball bowler,

Ionian-sailor, Zakynthos-wrecked,

Body-snatcher

Blood distressed.

WHAT DO DO NEXT?

Give it a go! If you like it, submit it to us for publication by sending it to submissionsinpoetry@gmail.com.

Share this page on Twitter and Facebook, follow us, like us, engage with us. We’re pretty sociable.

 

Poetic Forms Monthly: ‘Potential Titles for my Upcoming Autobiography’ by James Matthew Byers

 

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Remember that you can submit any poem you’ve written in response to a prompt on the site for consideration. Please send your poem to submissionsinpoetry@gmail.com with a short bio.

This month our poem is by James Matthew Byers. It responds to our prompt from August to write a list poem, and manages to be funny and moving while rhyming, not an easy task!

Potential Titles For my Upcoming Autobiography

Lazy goat who writes a book

Worm hung on a fishing hook

Someone lost, but none will look

Sorry scoundrel; rotten crook

Poet who embraces fad

Husband, father, not too bad

Always happy; never sad

Nerdy; goofy; kind of rad.

 

Author, James Mathew ByersJames Matthew Byers is the author of Grecian Rune, and is currently working on his book Beowolf: a Midgard Epic, forthcoming from Stitched Smile Publications. He lives in Alabama, US, and tweets here.

 

Poetic Forms Monthly: ‘A Girl In Port’ by James Barnett

James at sea
The poet, at sea

Remember that you can submit any poem you’ve written in response to a prompt on the site for consideration. Please send your poem to submissionsinpoetry@gmail.com with a short bio.

James’s beautiful poem uses our English Madrigal post as a starting point. The haunting refrains work just as well with a theme of loss as with a theme of music, and the effect is powerful. We are proud to present the poem here.

You can listen to the song that James refers to, here.

 

‘A Girl In Port’ by Okkervil River

I play the song on a loop for weeks

Place the melody of every line in my head

Alongside whispering memories of a loved one now dead.

 

The disconnection at sea is the connection I seek

with my Grandad, whose stories I no longer hear said,

So I play the song on a loop for weeks

Place the melody of every line in my head,

 

and picture him in the navy, in a war long and bleak

writing letters back home that keep truths left unsaid

about the waste, and the loss, I do not face or dread,

Just instead play this song on a loop for weeks

Place the melody of every line in my head

Alongside whispering memories of a loved one now dead.

 

James BarnettJames Barnett is a poet living in Birmingham. He works for the University of Birmingham’s Library Services and is currently studying to become a qualified librarian with the University of Sheffield

Poetic Forms 6: The List Poem

Lists
Photo by Palo, used under Creative Commons license.

Lists can be beautiful, even by accident. Over at Flavorwire Emily Temple has compiled a number of ‘Lists that Read Like Poems’ and I’m particularly fond of Isaac Newton’s List of Recently Committed Sins.

To write a list poem can be quite freeing – you have the chance to juxtapose things without having to work out how to get from one thing to the next – you just put the words on the next line!

What is a List Poem?

Have a look at Lists of Note, and you’ll see that a list is not always just one word on one line, one word on the next. There are footnotes, asides, bullet points, numbers, letters. Lists are ordered, formed structured – just like poems. You can play around with the form, putting it in dialogue with the subject matter. But essentially, a list poem is a list.

One example of a list poem I’ve written in the past used different markers to signify a sort of breakdown of order in the mind of the protagonist:

Three Days of Watching Criminal Minds

1. Criminals can be classified as Organised or Disorganised. Gideon or Hotch can tell which they are from a glance at

1.1 The scene of the crime.

1.2 Their bedroom in their parent’s house

or

1.3 The contents of their briefcase or their handbag.

2. As a female I am blonde or Latino. I’m a less frequent criminal. Crimes I am unlikely to commit include arson and rape. I can be your alibi or I can answer the door when they come looking for you and be genuinely oblivious to your crimes. I wish you’d trusted me not to rat you out. I wouldn’t have, baby, I swear.

3. Being from a broken home is “classic” for criminals. Other things to look out for are:

a) Bedwetting.

b) Cruelty to animals.

c) Impotence.

4. If I found you in the night, sticky and damp with urine, even if it spilled onto my side of the bed, I wouldn’t condemn you. I’d Google other symptoms for diabetes, sure. I’d get you clean pyjamas and run you a hot bath. And with regards to your childhood with a drunk for a father all I can feel is sorry.

The Prompt

Bearing that in mind, write your own list poem titled ‘Potential Titles For my Upcoming Autobiography.’

Here’s my example, using phrases that people have used to describe me that have stuck in my head. It’s humourous (if a bit depressing to write!). You don’t have to be a masochist and base it on insults you’ve had!

Potential Titles for my Upcoming Autobiography

A Shoal of Impulses

Fat Thighs, Horse Teeth

A Total Embarrassment:

The Rosie Reynolds Story

 

WHAT DO DO NEXT?

Give it a go! If you like it, submit it to us for publication by sending it to submissionsinpoetry@gmail.com or by messaging us on Facebook.

Share this page on Twitter and Facebook, follow us, like us, engage with us. We’re pretty sociable.

Poetic Forms Monthly: ‘Croome’ by Rai Furniss

Croome in Worcestershire, UK
Croome in Worcestershire, UK

Remember that you can submit any poem you’ve written in response to a prompt on the site for consideration. Please send your poem to submissionsinpoetry@gmail.com with a short bio.

Rai took our prose poem prompt to write this evocative poem about Croome, in Worcestershire. Read the poem, and then find out more about the place here. Rai’s poem balances a reverence for this beautiful heritage site with a tongue-in-cheek awareness of its visitors – ‘Very NT’. We are proud to present the poem here for your enjoyment.

Croome in Worcestershire, UK
Croome in Worcestershire, UK

Croome

The church bells sounded as if we were late. As the bells drew nearer we rounded the corner to a spectacular sight. A great sea of wildflowers with a path down the middle; I wanted to stay and just sit for a little. Straight down, a river, and the old house to the left, greenhouse to the right. It all seems so simple but yet it feels so profound standing at the top of that flow of tall flowers sweeping the scene.

At the gate, a nice old lady, and another two in the court. Very NT; very National Trust. Young families everywhere and a few grandparents too but I can’t feel out of place. Special guests came to display their birds of prey and I got to stand and have ‘Nelse’ fly to my hand.

There’s a beautiful wooden bridge, and a path all around. We saw Capability’s monument and the broken temple greenhouse but couldn’t find Pan or the Druid, who we were really after. The church watches over the entire time, jangling with bells on some mechanised repeat. The trees form welcome shade along the outer paths and I wonder back now if they were placed as purposefully as everything else.

Rai FurnissRai Furniss is a Birmingham-based writer looking to get back into their practice and expand their creative outlets.  Rai co-hosts the podcast The Offline Gamer and is a hobbyist photographer away from the day job.